State Senators Wednesday approved a $3.798 billion general appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2006. Combined with the Common Education appropriation passed earlier in the week, Senate Bill 213 establishes a $5.95 billion framework for the FY 2006 state budget
“This legislation mirrors the governor’s executive budget very closely. It represents a $592 million increase over the budget we passed last year. We realize that this bill varies from the GA measure approved earlier today by the House, but we believe it creates a good starting point for continued negotiations,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater.
Education is the biggest winner in the bill, he said. In addition to the $144.7 million in increased funding for common education approved in SB 217 Monday, the GA bill hikes higher education funding by $60.2 million to nearly $862.4 billion. Other education entities will share additional funding totaling nearly $10 million.
SB 213 also includes $102 million funding increase for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation – including funds to pay increased debt service from the 1997 bond issue and money to keep the Heartland Flyer in operation.
Under the legislation, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority would receive an $87.8 million funding increase and the Department of Human Services will receive an additional $77.9 million. The Department of Corrections budget would increase by $17.9 million which includes annualizing the department’s FY 2005 supplemental appropriation.
The measure leaves funds available for the Governor’s tax rebate legislation and EDGE endowment proposal and the first year of tax cuts under the Senate Democrats’ HOPE Plan.
Senate Bill 217, which passed the Senate by a 43-0 count Monday, includes a $2.152 billion budget for public schools passed two days before the “Fund Education First” deadline of March 16.